THIRTEEN senators coming from both sides of the political fence signed a draft resolution urging the Supreme Court (SC) to review its earlier decision on the quo warranto petition against ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno.
“Now therefore, be it resolved, as it is hereby resolved to express the sense of the Senate of the Philippines to uphold the Constitution on the matter of removing a Chief Justice from office, and respectfully urge the Supreme Court to review its decision to nullify the appointment of Maria Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines,” the draft resolution stated, which was released to media by the office of Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel Wednesday evening.
According to Ms. Hontiveros, the draft resolution was signed by Senate President Aquilino L. Pimentel III, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto, and Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon.
Senators from the majority bloc who also signed were Senators Francis G. Escudero, Sherwin T. Gatchalian, Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva, Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares and Juan Edgardo M. Angara.
Senators from the minority bloc, which included Senators Hontiveros, Francis N. Pangilinan, Antonio F. Trillanes IV, Leila M. De Lima, Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV, also signed as well.
The SC voted 8-6 last May 11 granting Solicitor General Jose C. Calida’s quo warranto petition, which voided the appointment of Ms. Sereno as chief magistrate.
The Senate draft resolution stressed that the SC decision was a “dangerous precedent that transgresses the exclusive powers of the legislative branch to initiate, try, and decide all cases of impeachment.”
It cited Section 3, Article 11 of the 1987 Constitution which gives the House of Representatives the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment and the Senate the sole power to try and decide impeachment cases.
The draft resolution also noted that while the government enforces the separation of powers, the doctrine “does not guarantee absolute autonomy in the discharge of functions of each branch,” adding that the “the corollary doctrine of checks and balances ensures their co-equality.”
In a statement, Ms. Hontiveros urged her colleagues to “cross partylines and unite” in asserting the Senate’s exclusive power to remove impeachable officials.
“I appeal to my fellow Senators to cross partylines and unite in defending the integrity of the Senate. We cannot issue strong statements on this travesty of the inviolability of the Constitution, yet not back it up with decisive action. We must not allow the Senate to be relegated to a hollow institution howling ineffectually at the margins,” she added.
She further warned that the SC decision would “render obsolete the country’s constitutional process of impeachment,” unless it was reversed.” — Camille A. Aguinaldo